Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Black Hand by Will Thomas

Title: The Black Hand
Author: Will Thomas
ISBN: 9781416558958, Touchstone, 2008
Genre: Private Investigator, Historical, #5 Barker & Llewelyn mystery
Rating: B+

First Line: I stepped across the sill of the conservatory, glass crunching under the heels of my boots, and steadied my Webley pistol with both hands, reluctant to step inside.

With each mystery in this series, author Will Thomas explores another area of Victorian London. In The Black Hand, after the body of a well-known Italian assassin is found floating in a barrel in the Thames, we're taken to Clerkenwell. It seems that Sicily has grown too small and the Mafia is seeking to increase its territory by moving into London. The bodies begin to pile up, rival gangs are pitted against each other, and private enquiry agents Barker and Llewelyn have their hands full.

As always in this series, it is the characters and the setting that shine supreme. Barker is a mysterious Victorian version of James Bond, and his young assistant, Thomas Llewelyn, is the perfect callow foil to all his seriousness. Llewelyn talks us through the streets of Victorian London, tries to figure out his enigmatic boss, and never misses an opportunity to appreciate a pretty female. That Llewelyn genuinely wants to learn and be the best assistant to Barker that he can only adds to the story.

A bonus in The Black Hand is that we get to go on a short journey away from London and learn about the woman in Barker's life. There's so much testosterone and action in these books that the feminine touch felt like a lovely sea breeze through the pages. It also added another character about whom I want to know more!

As long as Will Thomas writes about his private enquiry agents, I will read their adventures. Thomas brings nineteenth-century London to life, his characters are interesting and fun, and the action keeps the pages turning quickly. If you're in the mood for some Victorian mystery and adventure, Will Thomas is an excellent author to try.

[Source: Paperback Swap.]


  1. Cathy - I really enjoy historical mysteries, and for some reason, Victorian London is especially appealing. This one looks to be right up my alley!

  2. Margot K-- Probably because, to mystery lovers, Victorian London reminds us of stalwarts of the genre: Jack the Ripper and Sherlock Holmes. :)

  3. A Victorian James Bond? Sounds excellent!

  4. Aarti-- This is a very enjoyable series. I hope you give it a try!


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